MANHATTAN — Leticia Romero has known she wanted to transfer for several weeks, but she will have to wait a little longer to find out if Kansas State will grant her a release from its women’s basketball program.
Romero, a rising freshman from Las Palmas, Spain, decided she wanted to leave K-State after the Wildcats fired Deb Patterson, the coach she signed on to play for, but the athletic department denied her initial transfer request. On Wednesday afternoon, she took her case to an appeals committee led by K-State Vice President of Student Life Pat Bosco. As of Wednesday night, the committee had not informed Romero of its decision.
Romero has not responded to requests for comment. K-State athletic officials also denied comment, citing university policy.
The fact that Romero had to appear in front of the committe was unsettling to her.
“They said that they weren’t going to give me the release this year,” Romero told The Topeka Capital-Journal on Tuesday. “They wanted me to try one year, and in one year if I didn’t like it, they would give me a release. I really saw this as blackmail.”
The comparison may not be perfect, but news of K-State’s unwillingess to release Romero made waves across the Internet on Wednesday. Without a release, Romero will be forced to pay her own way at a new school while she sits out next season, per NCAA transfer rules. That would place a heavy financial burden on her and her family. With a release, she can receive an athletic scholarship the moment she signs with a new program. At this point, the only way she can receive a release is by winning her appeal.
It’s easy to see why K-State wants to keep Romero. She led the team in scoring (14.2), rebounds (5.8) assists (4.9) and minutes played (32.6). She was chosen Big 12 Freshman of the Week four times. It’s also easy to see why she wants to leave. She received 60 scholarship offers before choosing K-State — which she did in large part because of Patterson and former assistant/player Shalee Lehning. Kansas State has hired Jeff Mittie to replaced Patterson.
K-State’s student-athlete handbook states that the school denies most transfer requests, except for circumstances “which place an undue burden on the student-athlete.”
Still, K-State doesn’t fight every transfer. The men’s basketball team granted transfer releases for Angel Rodriguez, Adrian Diaz and Michael Orris last season. The women’s basketball team granted incoming recruit McKenna Treece a release from her lett of intent in the past few weeks. But they are fighting to keep Romero the same way the football team did with senior offensive lineman Manase Foketi and others in recent seasons.